Lieutenant Commander Phillipa Hay, Staff Officer at the Australian Defence Force’s Headquarters Northern Command in Darwin, has been awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The long serving naval officer and mother of three has described the award as ‘an honour, and very humbling’.
Lieutenant Commander Hay stepped into the role of Acting Director of Operational Planning at Northern Command in January 2012. With the early departure of the incumbent, she joked that she was ‘in the right place, at the wrong time’.
Her sudden responsibilities included the operational planning for Joint Task Force 639, for the conduct of Operation RESOLUTE - the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to Australia’s whole of government civil maritime security effort.
The role coincided with the extremely high tempo and unprecedented level of complexity in Australia’s border protection operations in 2012 and 2013.
With her supportive husband, Chris Tziolis, and children; Nicholas, Marcelle, and Alexander, aged eight, six and three years old respectively, it was a commitment to service that didn’t come without a cost.
“In periods of high operational activity, it felt like every 24 hours was record breaking compared to the previous 24 hours,” Lieutenant Commander Hay said.
“The personal cost was time away from my family. I felt like I had to compartmentalise my life. I rushed out of here at five o’clock, to spend that critical two or three hours with my family, and then I’d come back to work.
“Never once did they say ‘don’t go back’, or ‘please stay’. Even my parents and sister came up from Hobart to offer their support. I am forever grateful for my family’s unwavering encouragement and understanding,” she said.
The development of the Australian and Indonesian Coordinated Patrol; a regular combined military operation targeting illegal fishing, and the ongoing inter-government liaison conducted by Headquarters Northern Command on behalf of Defence are among Lieutenant Command Hay’s finer achievements.
“The regional engagement is something I’m very passionate about. I thoroughly enjoy engaging with our foreign counterparts, particularly the Indonesians and the Timorese,” she said.
“It’s been a fantastic professional experience being here at Northern Command because the Headquarters has such a wide portfolio in which Defence is engaging.”
Lieutenant Commander Hay said the hardest part about receiving the Conspicuous Service Cross is being singled out.
“I pushed myself hard, yes, but I was also part of a very hard working team who achieved the government’s intent as directed. I couldn’t have done it without the dedicated and professional people I worked with.
“I feel very humbled that I’ve been singled out, because we are a champion team, not a team of champions,” she said.
Lieutenant Commander Hay’s Citation:
Lieutenant Commander Phillipa HAY, RAN
For outstanding devotion to duty as Staff Officer Grade Two Maritime Planner, Headquarters Joint Task Force 639 - Operation RESOLUTE in support of Border Protection Operations.
Lieutenant Commander Hay displayed exceptional devotion to duty, completing complex maritime planning within extremely tight timelines and resource constraints for the Australian Defence Force's contribution to Border Protection Operations. Her outstanding achievements in maritime planning have directly contributed to the effectiveness of border surveillance and enforcement operations.